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The season for morning sweets

Tart passion fruit adds brightness to this spin on lemon-poppy seed muffins, the perfect breakfast treat.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

As I’ve written several times before, I’m a sweets-for-breakfast person. Sure, I love eggs and everything made with them. But if you put a plate of the best eggs in front me next to a stack of hot pancakes, fresh biscuits or a crispy waffle — its steam slowly relaxing away the sharp edges of a pat of butter — well, I’m not picking the eggs. In the summertime, I indulge this part of me by eating good sourdough toast topped with almond or peanut butter and homemade jam. But as soon as the temps are chilly in the morning and the skies are overcast and gray, as they have been this past week, I change course and begin my day with sweet baked goods. Last Thursday morning, while out picking up a cup of coffee, I succumbed to a pumpkin spice cake doughnut that hit all the basic notes of fall I’d been craving. I regret nothing.

To celebrate this season of sugar-and-spice-filled mornings, I’ve got a roster of sweet carbs to keep on the counter throughout the week: First, the easiest and simplest cake doughnut holes (I like to stay on-theme for a stretch) tossed, of course, in cinnamon-sugar; crunchy and piping hot, I can’t think of anything better to chase my sips of coffee with.

Next, I have two of my favorite muffin recipes on hand: these blueberry ones, packed with more fruit than batter, and these passion fruit-poppy seed stunners that blast through the morning fog better than the afternoon sun.

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Then, to use up some fruit that’s teetering on the ripe-rotten fence (we all have that bowl on the counter), I make this yeasted cake that acts almost like a sweet pizza base, cradling the fruit and turning it into a much fancier version of my summertime jam toast.

Finally, when the weekend arrives and I have a little extra time and attention to cook in the morning, I make this Dutch baby. It’s made with almond flour and whips up in a blender in seconds. By the time it’s done baking, I’ve walked the dog and had my first cup of coffee. All that’s left is to sit down to breakfast and enjoy another sweet morning.

Almond Dutch Baby With Honeyed Figs

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 2 to 4

Mixed in a blender and baked in a skillet, this Dutch baby is the most relaxed pancake you’ll ever make.

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Passion Fruit-Poppy Seed Muffins

Time 45 minutes
Yields Makes 12

Passion fruit adds a golden warmth to this riff on traditional lemon-poppy seed muffins.

Yeasted Breakfast Cake With Peaches and Plums

Time 2 hours 40 minutes, largely unattended
Yields Serves 8

Use this yeasted cake as a blank canvas for any fruit you have lying around. It’s also great plain and eaten with jam.

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More-Berries-Than-Batter Blueberry Muffins

Time 40 minutes
Yields Makes 12

If you like your muffins as a ball of fruit with just enough batter to keep things from falling apart, this recipe is for you.

Doughnut Holes

Time 30 minutes
Yields Makes about 20

Ready in under 30 minutes and fresh from the fryer, these are the simplest, freshest doughnuts you can make.

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Ask the cooks

What’s the best way to prep garlic for everyday use?

— Rachel Teichman

I can’t remember the last time I chopped garlic. Along with chopping nuts, it’s one of those tasks that seems more annoying to me than it probably is, but I still loathe doing it. Unless I’m making something that really depends on a specific size of garlic pieces (I’m thinking slices for a stir-fry), I pretty much only grate garlic on a Microplane grater. There’s no sticky knife or cutting board to clean, and you can grate it directly into the pan in which you’re cooking. I even bought a separate grater just for garlic — to keep funky smells from tainting my nutmeg or lemon zest — and I use it just about every day.

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